Smith’s Family Garden Luau Review 2023: Is This The Most Authentic Luau in Kauai?
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Are you considering attending the Smith’s Family Garden Luau in Kauai but unsure what to expect? Worry no more! This blog post is here to provide you with an in-depth review of the luau experience.
In this blog post, we’ll take you through the different experiences and activities you can enjoy at the luau. We will also help you decide if the Smith’s Family Luau is worth the money and provide some tips to help make your experience even more memorable.
Why should you trust us? We’ve spent several hours researching and gathering consumer feedback on the best luaus in Kauai. Most importantly, we’ve been to almost all the luaus on Kauai and have seen The Smith’s Family Garden Luau several times. We know all about the food, entertainment, and activities that make this one of the top-rated luaus on the island.
Before we begin, let’s answer the two big questions below:
Is the Smith’s Family Garden Luau the Most Authentic Luau in Kauai?
This is tough to answer because it’s hard to make an event authentic if you charge people for it. No matter what, all luaus have to make the shows entertaining since it’s part of the experience, and that can take away from the authenticity.
However, we believe the Smith’s Family Garden Luau has the most authentic experience out of all the luaus in Kauai — from the traditional imu ceremony to the authentic Polynesian performance and the Smith’s Family running the luau. Everything feels genuine and heartfelt, and that’s why so many people keep coming back!
Is the Smith’s Family Garden Luau Worth the Money?
You bet your lei it is! The luau offers a beautiful outdoor setting, live music, and entertainment from the Islands of Polynesia and Asia. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about Polynesian culture through authentic performances and fun activities like hula dance lessons.
All these experiences make the Smith’s Family Garden Luau one of the most memorable luaus in Hawaii. If this is your first time attending a luau, you’re in for a real treat!
About the Smith’s Family Garden Luau
There is a reason why guests consistently hail the Smith’s Family Garden Luau as the best on Kauai. Despite not being on a beach with a panorama of the ocean, the setting amid a garden next to the Wailua River, Hawaii’s largest river, is breathtaking.
The Smith Family Luau is run by a local family that has been hosting luaus for over 50 years. Today, four generations of the Smith family are involved in running the luau, which adds a unique touch to your experience.
Getting to the Smith’s Family Luau
Location: 3-5971 Kuhio Hwy, Kapaʻa, HI 96746 (Inside Wailua Marina State Park on the east side of Kauai)
Visitors have three main options to get to the luau:
Drive: The Smith’s Luau is located in Kapa’a, about 12 minutes from Lihue. This is the fastest and most convenient way to get there if you have a rental car. Parking is free. We chose this option as we always rent a car when we travel to Kauai.
Taxi/Uber/Lyft: Taking a taxi, Uber or Lyft, is also an option. Book your ride back in advance to ensure you don’t wait too long after the luau.
Shuttle Service: The Smith’s Luau does not offer a shuttle service, but several companies offer shuttle services to the luau from all over the island. Below are two companies recommended on their website:
- Roberts Hawaii: 808-245-9101
- Polynesian Adventure: 808-246-1222
When Is the Luau
- 5:00 pm to about 9:00 pm (4:45 pm start time Nov-Feb)
- February – October: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday
- June – August: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday
- November – January: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
Smith’s Family Luau Tickets
Packages: The Smith’s Luau has one package. There is also an option to purchase the show only.
- Adult: $140
- Jr. (7-13) $35.00
- Child (3-6) $25.00
Show Only Tickets: Gates open at 7:30 pm
- Adult: $25
Which Package Should You Choose?
It depends on your budget and how much you want to experience the luau. The general tickets are more expensive but include all the bells and whistles. The show-only tickets are cheaper, but you won’t get the whole cultural experience.
Ultimately, it comes down to whether you want to do just the show or have a complete experience. We recommend the general admission tickets to get the most out of your time at the luau.
Also, it’s worth noting that the Smith’s Family Luau is one of Hawaii’s most reasonably priced luaus with a complete experience. Compared to some of the best luaus in Oahu, like the Chief’s Luau, Toa Luau, or Paradise Cove Luau, the Smith’s Luau is a great value.
When to Book
We suggest booking your tickets ahead of time, especially if you plan on going during peak season (May-August) or any holiday. Tickets are often sold out, so get yours in advance.
If you need to cancel your ticket, Smith’s Luau has a good cancellation policy. All full refund requests must be made at least 24 hours before your reserved date. If cancellations are made less than 24 hours, a 50% cancellation fee will be incurred. A “No-Show” will result in a 100% cancellation fee.
Smith’s Family Luau Itinerary: What to Expect
The doors open at 4:45 pm in November-February and 5:00 pm in March-October, so you’ll have about 45 minutes before the night’s first event starts. We recommend getting there on time since there is a lot to see before the show begins.
During check-in, guests will receive a map of the luau property, a lei, and seat assignments for dinner. When we went to the luau in January, the tables at dinner were assigned, but I have heard that during peak season, they are open seating (first come, first served) for smaller parties.
Once checked in, guests will have an opportunity to take professional photos with some of the performers. These photos can later be purchased during or after the luau for $25.00.
You can then explore the grounds on foot or take the tram tour of the gorgeous 30-acre garden park. The paved loop is 1.6 miles and is a friendly and informative ride. The driver will point out different plants, fruit trees, and more.
The paved loop was actually used for a half-marathon the day before we went (January), where, if I remember correctly, 280 runners competed.
We highly recommend the tram tour because the driver tours you around the property and tells interesting facts about the land. Plus, you’ll get a great view of the luau grounds from the open-air trams.
There are three separate venues for the luau. The dinner area is in a large covered pavilion, and the show takes place in the outside amphitheater. The IMU ceremony takes place outside the buffet at the end of the tram tour.
During our visit, dinner was the only time seats were pre-assigned!
Overall, we love the setting of Smith’s Luau. The grounds, gardens, and venues are beautiful; you can tell they take great pride in their property.
Side note: Going to Kauai and need recommendations on where to eat? Check out our review of the best restaurants in Kauai.
Pre-Show Cultural Activities and Demonstrations
The Imu Ceremony
The Imu ceremony is where guests can witness firsthand how Hawaiian food was traditionally cooked underground with heated rocks and banana leaves.
The ceremony is performed around 6:00 pm or 6:15 pm. One of the Smith family members, the luau host, will give the background information and history of imu ceremonies in Hawaii.
Two employees will rake the dirt off the tarp covering the hole in the ground, remove the giant leaves, remove the volcanic rocks, and remove the sections of a full pig steaming and baking underground for nine hours.
There are also two other imu ceremonies around the property, but the pigs are removed prior to guests arriving. These first two are what you eat during the buffet, and the pig from the imu ceremony you witnessed is served when the first two are fully consumed.
We enjoyed the imu ceremony and appreciated that they had an actual ceremony where they unearth the kalua pig rather than just bringing it out on stage as most luaus do. This gives you a better understanding of how an imu (Hawaiian underground oven) works.
Bonus points to the Smith family for putting in extra effort to make the event memorable and authentic!
Smith Family Luau Feast
After the imu ceremony, guests will head to the large pavilion, where a huge and delicious all-you-can-eat buffet awaits.
There are also a couple of all-you-can-drink bars here, with both alcoholic and virgin drinks awaiting you. They’re tropical drinks, but you can ask the bartender to make you whichever standard mixed drink you’d like.
While you wait for your table to be called, you’ll be entertained by live music, storytelling, and hula dancing.
Smith Family Luau Menu
The buffet consists of typical luau food like kalua pork, laulau (pork wrapped in taro leaves), poi, poké, huli-huli chicken, pineapple upside cake, and more. They also had other types of food like fried rice, mashed potatoes, stir-fried vegetables, etc.
Overall the food was delicious! We especially loved that the buffet is three rows of the same food being served, with lines on both sides (so six lines total). This was very efficient, and we only waited about five minutes before our table was called.
They also have a dessert buffet you can go to before your dinner table is called if you are hungry and need something to snack on. I took advantage of this and got my dessert plate ready while waiting. The dessert consisted of pineapple upside-down cake, different jel-os, coconut cake, fresh fruits, rice pudding, and more.
Activities and Cultural Performances
During dinner, the entertainment continued with more hula dancing, live music, and lessons.
They also invited people celebrating birthdays to the stage and taught them how to hula dance. While some might call this cheesy, this luau has a great vibe and atmosphere, so if this is what you are looking for, we highly recommend it.
Overall, the entertainment was great and very educational. They told stories about how Tahitians first navigated to Hawaii, the folklore behind why the Hawaiian Islands were formed, and more.
The host (Kamika Smith) also sang while his cousin performed a hula dance, which was lovely and intimate.
Once the feast is over, it’s time to head to the outside amphitheater, where the show will begin around 7:30 pm. The stage is in the middle of a pond, about 40 feet in front of the first row of seats.
Since the dance show’s seating is first come, first served, we left the dinner pavilion about 15 minutes early to ensure we got a good seat.
For the next couple of hours, you’ll be treated to different dances from the islands of Polynesia and Asia. There’s also a replica volcano in the background that spews fire every so often.
The fire show was spectacular, one of the best we’ve seen, and we have been to many luaus.
By far, this is my favorite luau show in Kauai! Not only is it very entertaining, but it’s educational as well. Of all the luaus we have been to, we would rate the Smith’s Family second best after the Polynesian Cultural Center Luau in Oahu.
The show is very entertaining and includes different forms of Polynesian dance, such as hula, fire poi ball dancing, Tahitian drumming, and Samoan fire knife performances. They also had great live music that we enjoyed throughout the show and dances from Asian countries like Japan. Most luaus don’t usually have dances from Asia, so this was a nice touch!
What to Love About Smith’s Family Luau
- One of the most reasonably priced options with an imu ceremony
- Offers separate venues for dining and performances
- Arguably the best luau show in Kauai
- Open bar
What’s Not to Love About Smith’s Family Luau
- Tendency to overcrowd; high capacity (400+ at maximum)
- No option to take photos with the crew after the show
- There are no cultural activities, such as learning how to weave a basket, start a fire, or open a coconut.
Smith’s Family Luau vs. Luau Kalamaku
This one is hard to compare since they’re both so great in their own ways. To start, Luau Kalamaku is a bit pricier ($159) than Smith Family Luau ($140).
Luau Kalamaku also offers a more intimate experience since it’s a medium-sized luau (about 200 people) compared to Smith’s Luau, which can accommodate up to 400+ people.
All guests receive a fresh flower lei at luau Kalamaku while Smith’s Luau provides a shell lei.
In terms of performance, both are excellent and offer different experiences. The Smith’s Family Luau is a spectacular high-production show with a large number of performers, while Luau Kalamaku provides a more intimate performance with a smaller number of performers.
Some of the similarities between these two luaus are:
- Both are located on the East side of the island.
- Both have imu ceremonies.
- Both offer a setting in nature.
In a nutshell, the Smith Family Luau is better for those looking for a spectacular high-production show but don’t mind the big crowds. Luau Kalamaku is best for those seeking an intimate setting who can’t stand large crowds.
That said, we believe Smith’s Family Luau is the best in Kauai and offers the best value for your money.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Drinks Included at the Smith’s Family Luau?
Yes, drinks are included at the Smith Family Luau with the general admission ticket.
Is There a Dress Code at Smith’s Family Luau?
No, there is no dress code at Smith Family Luau and most luaus we have been to in Hawaii. We recommend wearing whatever makes you comfortable, but if you get cold easily, remember to bring a sweater or jacket for the nighttime since it can sometimes get chilly!
Most women usually wear dresses or skirts, and some men wear regular or aloha shirts with shorts. You can also wear matching outfits with your partner to go all out. We recommend wearing comfortable shoes if you plan to walk around the garden before the show.
The Smith’s Family Luau is an excellent luau show for those looking for a reasonably priced option full of entertainment and educational value. It offers separate dining and performance venues, an open bar, and a great fire show with performances from the islands of Polynesia and Asia.
The main downside is the tendency to overcrowd; however, they do a great job of maneuvering the large crowd that you barely even notice.
So, if you plan to attend a luau in Kauai, we highly recommend this one! We had a great time and will continue returning at every opportunity we get.
Mahalo for reading our post. We hope this review has been helpful and that you enjoy your experience at the Smith’s Family Luau as much as we did! Until next time, aloha!